The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will meet in Miami to decide the champion of the 2019 NFL season. Super Bowl LIV (that’s 54 to most) promises to be an entertaining one, continuing a nice run of competitive Super Bowls and solid matchups.
The Chiefs are favored by 1 to 1.5 points at just about every online sportsbook, an indication of just how close and unpredictable this matchup looks.
My forecast revolves around which team can produce more big plays. Both the Chiefs and 49ers are dynamic teams with big-play weapons that are capable of putting up points from all over the field. The biggest difference is how they accomplish those big plays.
Kansas City relies on the magic of reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs QB is incredible at creating plays both in and outside the structure of Andy Reid’s offense. With Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce, he’s got exceptional speed at his disposal. Mahomes understands how to use it and facilitate that great speed, too.
The 49ers rely more on big plays from the run game and the magnificent artistry of tight end George Kittle. It’s a more physical style, and it’s tremendously effective. Jimmy Garoppolo looks great at smartly distributing the ball and carrying out coach Kyle Shanahan’s oft-brilliant game plan.
But Garoppolo is more negatively impacted by pressure and defensive adjustments than Mahomes. That doesn’t mean he’s not capable, but Garoppolo can’t unleash the no-look pass, the rolling right/throwing left strikes, or the 34-yard TD scamper when the man coverage ignores his legs that Mahomes can do. Few can.
I also like the Chiefs defense, which is a resurgent unit over the last few weeks. Chris Jones should be healthy, and he’s a great foil for the traps and sweeps the 49ers like to run. Tanoh Kpassagnon plays the edge nicely, while Frank Clark brings blistering speed around the edge and a good finishing ability. Tyrann Mathieu is a big-play safety, and Anthony Hitchens as a cover LB can at least effort to contain Kittle.
The 49ers defensive front is stronger. They’re a dominant unit, and the contributions of Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Kwon Alexander at LB control the underneath game and run game nicely. However, Mahomes and his ability to escape the front-4 is a stress point for the weakness of the 49ers defense--deep and outside. The Chiefs have the weapons to exploit it, too. And I think they will.
Chiefs 33, 49ers 20
The Super Bowl is proof you can bet on just about anything in a game. From the national anthem to the number of times a player not in the game is mentioned, it’s all up for wagering.
My guesses on some of the more popular prop bets…
Mahomes is the obvious choice, provided the Chiefs win. If you’re looking for value, I suggest taking Kittle. He’s apt to be the primary reason the 49ers win, and he’s the kind of character the media who chooses the MVP will embrace.
National anthem time: over/under 2 minutes
I like the under here. Demi Lovato has gone under two minutes in three of her four public national anthem performances. She’s trying to recapture dignity after some personal issues and a clean, crisp rendition would help solidify that.
Longest field goal: 46.5 yards
Hammer the under here. 49ers PK Robbie Gould is accurate but his range tops out at 45 yards. He’s 0-for-5 beyond 49 yards this year. Expect Shanahan to go for it and try to get TDs rather than settling for FGs in that range. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has longer range and has made three from beyond 50, but like his 49ers counterpart, I expect Reid to go for it instead of chasing long field goals and risking the possible negative consequences.
Color of Gatorade dumped at/on the winning coach
Gotta go red here as it’s within the color scheme of both teams. The Niners are obviously darker, but they’re not purple.
Tom Brady mentions: over/under 1.5
FOX has the broadcast and that means Joe Buck. Take the under. Buck is obsessed with Aaron Rodgers, not Tom Brady.